Employment & Labour

Detailed employment contracts can keep companies out of court

A recently settled wrongful dismissal lawsuit against one of Canada’s largest criminal defence firms highlights the importance of having detailed termination clauses in all employment contracts, Toronto employment lawyer Doug MacLeod tells Law Times.

The case — which was recently settled out of court — involves an action launched by Tracy Francis against Rusonik O’Connor Robbins Ross Gorham & Angelini LLP in early 2011. Trial was due to begin Dec. 7, says the report.

In March 2011, Francis launched the wrongful dismissal claim against her former employer, alleging she was fired for making the same kinds of disparaging remarks over email she alleged were routine among partners at the firm, Law Times reports.

The firm said it terminated Francis for cause, alleging she failed to adequately perform assigned tasks and instead “devoted herself nearly exclusively to attempting to manipulate the students” working at the firm, the report continues.

In May of 2013, Rusonik altered its defence and Francis countered with an increased claim for $1.5 million in damages for wrongful dismissal, says the article.

A recently released statement says the parties have “amicably resolved the litigation in this matter and out of respect for the parties, the details of the settlement are confidential,” reports Law Times.

“I act for a lot of law firms and I always suggest the firm require all associate employees to sign contracts,” MacLeod, principal at MacLeod Law Firm, says in the article. “The termination clause would set out exactly what the employer’s obligation would be in terms of a termination; that would have been the end of this case and it would never have gone to court.”

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